Investing in a Career

04 Dec

Last week guest author Delle Jacobs posted a blog at Gem State Writers titled, Can Anyone Be Published? Besides being a column chock full of information on the new world of self-publishing, something else she wrote spoke to me. She said, “And don’t get so wound up in how much profit you’re making that you lose sight of the truth that you’re building a career. Sometimes you just can’t look at profit because you have to be constantly re-investing your career. Aim for finding readers and pleasing them, and eventually the money will come.”

To add to Delle’s bits of wisdom, I came across some information about investing in a small business. Investing is the capital word here, I believe. A writer invests years of work refining his/her skill, time pared away from family and friends, duties and events, besides having a day job. She/he invests large amounts of energy over time that could have been used elsewhere for something worthwhile or for nothing but time to relax.

How many years do you have left to invest time and energy to your craft? Do you have years to get where you want to be in the business or do you have ten or twenty or thirty years left to produce books? How fast do you want to write? How can you be more productive? Generally the more you write the faster you get, but I’m going a step further by outlining to a higher degree than I ever have before on my current work-in-progress in hopes of speeding myself along. Once you figure out how many books you can logically write, you’ll know how much time, energy, and money you will earn and need to invest.

Many writers have already learned that there is more to the business than just writing. Marketing and/or getting your name out there is next on the docket after you get the call. No, it’s important to get it going before you sell. I’ve often heard that people have different strengths, right and left brain thinking. One may be good at English but find math more of a challenge. Welcome to my world. Isn’t there some math in marketing? Add a changing publishing industry and you have more difficulties.

Thankfully we have writing groups that can help us out with marketing news, but still we are confused because most of us are not highly paid writers. It’s hard to think it is okay to spend money for promotion when you don’t earn that much. I’ve been tight-fisted with my books, as if my writing career has ended. Perhaps it’s because I don’t know if the next book will sell, yet a small business owner has a measure of faith to get their business off the ground. 

Did you know that 49% percent of all small-business owners use credit cards to finance their small business? Of course if you can do your own business cards and build your own website you are already ahead. Studies also show that small business owners typically have family and friends (81%) as investors. Think about it, friends and family are the ones buying our books as we start our journey as an unknown. Small business owners get loans, too, expecting to be in the red for some time. Perhaps it’s not such a bad idea to look into US Small Business Administration for ideas (

I really admire Delle for all she’s accomplished, and will accomplish in the future despite growing older. Perhaps she’s a left and right brain thinker. All I know for sure is that she has been taking writing seriously, while I’ve been contemplating my navel.

I want to learn from you, too. How much time and money are you willing to invest?


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12 responses to “Investing in a Career

  1. ramblingsfromtheleft

    December 4, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    Mary, don’t worry about how much time you have. If you decide to “go for it” you will find time, like so much we worry about in life, ceases to be a problem. I am, shall I say, a vintage woman. There will not be thirty years to build a career, since those years were spent elsewhere. It doesn’t matter, because in life things happen when they are supposed to happen. I intend to invest in myself with time and hard work and be able to know I have built a career in writing I can be proud of … you too 🙂

    • maryvine

      December 4, 2011 at 9:46 AM

      Beautifully said. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Meredith Conner

    December 4, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    I’m willing to do as much as it takes to achieve my goals. This is my dream. I’m not giving it up. Right now I’m investing my time in writing and getting my name out there. I’m investing my money in contests and a website. As things change so will my time and money investments. I can’t put a price on my dream.

    • maryvine

      December 4, 2011 at 5:53 PM

      Meredith – you go girl! I’ll be watching as things chance for you in great ways!

  3. Janis

    December 4, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Mary, I look at the time I put in as billable hours, all aimed at the goal of selling. The satisfaction of telling a story is always there, but valuation increases if you realize your goal. Thanks for the analogy of a small business.

    • maryvine

      December 4, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      Good idea to look at time spent as billable hours-thanks, Janis!

  4. Tracy Wilson-Burns

    December 4, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    Wonderful post! I’d like to add that as writers, not only are we investing in our writing career–we are investing in ourselves! It will be a long time before my writing career compensates me for the expense of my MA in Writing Popular Fiction; however, the two years I was in the program were extraordinarily fulfilling and I made friends I will have for a lifetime. The value added to my life was well worth the expense!

    • maryvine

      December 4, 2011 at 5:57 PM

      I like the idea of thinking of what you do as “investing in ourselves”. Thanks, Tracy.

  5. Delle Jacobs

    December 5, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    Thanks Mary! How nice of you! And I have to admit you guessed right. Yes, I am somewhat right/left-brained, thanks to a very weird childhood. I was clearly born to be right-handed. But by the time I was three, I was clearly left-handed. You see, I had an older brother who I had mistaken for God. He was left-handed. He taught me everything he knew, including how to color while sprawled out on the floor. My mom swore I would be coloring along with my right hand, then look over to see my brother “doing it right” with his left hand. So I’d dutifully swap my crayons to the left hand. Over a period of a few months I gradually re-trained myself to follow “God’s” instructions.

    I’m not all that ambidextrous, but I do all my digital art with my right hand, and I really didn’t have all that much art talent until I began doing it on the computer.

  6. maryvine

    December 5, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Of course you are left and right brained! 🙂 Very interesting to hear that you not always an art gal. Who knows what the future opens up for us all. Thanks again, Delle, for sharing on Gem State.

  7. Lynn Mapp

    December 5, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Mary, you asked an interesting question. How much am I willing to spend? I don’t know. I am really going to have to think about my answer. Great blog.

  8. Mary Vine

    December 6, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Thanks, Lynn!


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